Meet the Insta-famous Hackney café taking over your feed  

Instagrammable dishes from Mare Street café Palaette. 

Instagrammable dishes from Mare Street café Palaette. - Credit: Gunes Alkan, Palaette

Home to pink lattes and edible flowers on pancakes, this café on 415 Mare street treats every plate like a canvas.  

Having opened in 2019, Palaette now has queues which trail down the road during busy periods.  

Co-owner, Gunes Alkan, 29, is an architect. She said: “Initially, I wanted it to be an architecture café so people could come work here, like a social space for architects to come together. 

"But that didn’t spread well and wasn’t working for business. So, we thought let’s try food, and I noticed people were really into breakfast and brunch.” 

The name of the café reflects Gunes’s desire to blend food, art and architecture.  


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Palaette is a combination of words which include the mouth’s palate, which distinguishes tastes, a painter’s palette and a pallet, denoting a vertical layered piece of wood.  

Gunes’s architectural expertise and finesse is seen in the café’s chic interior and food artistry. 

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“Nowadays, instead of tasting the food, people look at it first. I did art for my whole life, so it was interesting to put art into food.”  

While she acknowledged that social media played a big part in influencing her aesthetic choices, she said: “Being a woman has helped me to aesthetically design the plates and make it more popular.

"Most businesses are run purely by men but actually - without being sexist - a woman’s touch makes it all.” 

Co-owner, Ali Aslan, 34, spoke about the influence of their Turkish roots on the café.  

“We use a lot of Turkish ingredients, like sujuk, a spiced Turkish sausage and sigari boregi, classic Turkish spinach and feta rolls.”  

Gunes added: “Turkish breakfast is very big. Even when you go to brunch places that are not owned by Turkish people, you see that the majority of things are from the Turkish kitchen like shakshuka. It’s a Mediterranean dish that a lot of cultures do in their own way.”  

The influence of Turkish culture is not just present in the food, but in the running of the café. Most of the staff are family, which they believe exudes a homely vibe to the customers.  

Keeping to the theme of home, Palaette uses local produce wherever possible, and the coffee beans are, of course, from Hackney.  

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